Posted in Personal Injury on November 21, 2019
Social media might seem like a casual place to post photos, comments, and keep up with friends and family, but if you get involved in a personal injury case, it could become a tool the defendant uses against you. Your social media profiles can give an account of your accident and injuries that contradicts what you and your attorney have been trying to convey in court. If you are trying to bring a claim for a disability, for example, but post photos of yourself running a marathon, this could hurt your case. Be careful what you post on social media during a personal injury case. If you wish to protect your rights to compensation, do not post at all.
How Social Media Can Affect Your Claim
When you bring a personal injury claim, your goal should be to maximize the compensatory award you receive for damages. Compensable damages you can claim in Arizona may include economic and noneconomic losses. While the defendant may not be able to argue against your claimed economic damages, for which you will have proof such as receipts and financial statements, the defendant could dispute your claim to noneconomic damages.
Noneconomic damages in a personal injury case can include physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, mental pain, grief, general trauma, loss of consortium, and lost quality or enjoyment of life. Proving noneconomic damages takes looking into the victim’s personal life. The courts may accept testimony from you or your loved ones as proof of noneconomic damages, as well as statements from mental health experts. The courts may also look into your social media accounts.
If you have been posting to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, LinkedIn or other social media sites since your accident, all your activity could serve as evidence for or against you in a personal injury case. A judge may want to see what you have posted since your accident to verify whether it lines up with your story. If you have posted proof that your injuries have caused bedrest, missed opportunities and diminished enjoyment of life, it could work in your favor. If, however, you have posted about attending events, hanging out with friends, going to work and otherwise leading a normal life, it could hurt your claim to noneconomic damages.
Can Social Media Posts Be Used Against Your Claim?
Never assume what you post on social media is confidential. Your social media accounts are not private, regardless of the privacy settings you use. In a personal injury claim, the other side of the case can gain access to everything you have ever posted – even posts you have deleted and messages sent in private. Social media platforms are open to the public and can serve as evidence during a personal injury case. A defendant could gain access to and print messages, comments and photographs you posted to use them against you in court. Modern courts typically admit social media content as evidence.
If you have posted anything to social media sites, that content is not privileged. The other side could gain access to it and use it as proof to dispute your claim to damages without infringing on your rights to privacy. This remains true even if you delete your account. Investigators have ways to gain access to deleted information – and it could look even more incriminating that you tried to delete the account. The courts could hold you responsible for trying to destroy evidence.
It can be impossible to know how the courts will interpret things you post. The best way to protect yourself from social media damaging your case is to stop using the platforms altogether. Do not send private messages or texts about your personal injury case. Do not admit fault or say anything incriminating while online. Avoid technology while your lawyer works on your case. Tell your friends not to tag you in posts or post photos of you, either. Abstaining from social media for a few months may be challenging, but it is the only way to ensure you do not unintentionally diminish your chances of obtaining compensation.